Well, I guess that would be corrections officer turned hip-hop icon Rick Ross. The X-large emcee has weathered several health scares in the last year or so, and his long-awaited new album, God Forgives, I Don’t, has been pushed back more than even the average rap album is these days. But no more! Ricky Rozay (man, this guy has a lot of nicknames) ‘s new effort is finally hitting stores. This guy’s pretty hot (commercially) as far as hip-hop goes, and while he isn’t personally my cup of tea, I’m sure fans will come out in droves to support.

Ross is the surest commercial prospect in a week that has a few big-name albums being released. Gloriana got a lot of love opening for Taylor Swift a couple years back. Remember when they won the American Music Award for Best New Artist and non-country fans everywhere were like “who?” I was certainly one of those folks. A Thousand Miles Left Behind is the name of their new effort, and while I don’t think they’ll be challenging the likes of Swift for chart supremacy, their profile has certainly increased enough that they should enjoy healthy sales.

When we lost Whitney Houston last February, she had just completed a role in the movie Sparkle, playing the mom of the young ladies who aspire to be a hit singing group. While the star of the movie is nominally Jordin Sparks, I’m pretty sure those that see the movie (and buy the soundtrack, out today) will be doing so to hear and see Whitney for the last time.

If you’re a blue-eyed soul singer with the last name Stone, this is a good week for you. First up, we have Joss Stone. Last year wasn’t the greatest year for her, what with that weird story about a plot to kill her, and the cumulative failure of her last solo album as well as the SuperHeavy project, which paired her with a seemingly can’t-miss combination of Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, A.R. Rahman and Damian Marley. On her latest effort, the now adult Joss is revisiting the sound that made her famous initially, with The Soul Sessions 2. For a fresher approach to soul music, you might want to give Allen Stone‘s self-titled debut a shot. Dude looks like…like…I can’t even explain to you what the dude looks like, but the man can carry a tune.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, ladies and gentlemen. In addition to the new album by metal gods Testament (profiled in this week’s Metal Monday column,) the week brings forth new albums from pioneering rock/funk icon Nona Hendryx, husky-voiced soul singer Leela James (paying tribute to the recently deceased Etta James,) Beatle progeny Dhani Harrison‘s band, thenewno2, and albums from long-absent rock band Jackyl, as well as soul singers Karyn White and Lenny Williams.

On the reissue tip, you’ll find a new 2-CD set of hits from everyone’s favorite saxophonist, David Sanborn. I’d be more curious to hear a 2-CD set featuring every hit record that the man has played guest sax on. Can you imagine? There’s also a series of reissues from Britpop legends Blur (all with a bonus disc of extra tracks,) remasters of some of Frank Zappa‘s best-known albums (including Weasels Ripped My Flesh, possessor of one of the all-time great album covers.) You’ll also find 40th anniversary reissues of Neil Diamond‘s Hot August Night and Bobby Womack‘s soundtrack to the blaxploitation classic, Across 110th Street, now including two additional Womack classics, Looking For A Love Again and Facts Of Life.

In closing, and as ever, make sure you’re checking out Pause And Play for a more complete picture of this week’s, and every week’s new releases.

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